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Dance studio owner fleeing?
Parents outraged studio owner is moving while owing money and cancelling kids recital
photo Starbound dance studio storefront porterdale

About 50 local parents are owed money by a local dance studio and had to tell their kids their dance recital might not have been able to happen after the studio's owner shut down the studio, stopped responding to calls and planned to move out of town.

Valerie Odom, owner of Starband Dance Company, located at 2124 Main Street, Porterdale, opened the studio last summer, according to Michelle Stephens, whose 7-year-old daughter attends the studio.

The first recital was planned for Saturday, May 31 at Porter Hall, but the venue was never officially booked.

Stephens said planning for the recital had not been going smoothly. Then all the parents received an email Wednesday, May 28 from Odom saying the studio was closing, effective immediately because she was moving out of town. She did not tell any of the parents where she was moving.

After Odom's curtain call, the parents got together at Romp N Roll Skating Center in Conyers to come up with a plan to let their children perform. That plan came to fruition Saturday.

The skating center, located at 3174 Salem Road in Conyers, agreed to let the kids perform their recital at its facility Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Recital fees cost $50 per family plus costs for costumes per child that Odom collected from parents. Stephens said she paid the $50 fee and about $65 for costumes. Regular lessons cost $50 a month. Stephens said she has been sending her daughter to Starband for six months.

Parent Chris Glover said he paid about $170 to Odom for the recital and costume fees but that some parents with multiple children at the studio may have paid anywhere from $100-$500.

Stephens said Odom told parents she would refund their money, but as of Thursday, May 29 no one has received their refund. The studio is closed, Odom's Facebook page has been taken down, the studio website no longer exists, and Odom cannot be reached on her studio number or cell phone. Parents and The News have tried contacting Odom with no success.

Glover has a 7-year-old daughter involved with the studio. He said all parents have been corresponding after Odom sent the mass email notifying them the studio closed and recital would not happen.

"People are outraged," Glover said. "Most of us are just upset because we have to tell our kids they're not having a recital."

Parents met at the Romp n' Roll skating rink Friday at 7 p.m., and owner Donna Maloof let the kids skate for free while parents discussed next steps.

"I'm planning on doing whatever I can," Glover said.

This includes possibly filing charges against Odom. Parents have talked with Porterdale Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to determine their options.

According to a screen shot of Odom's Zoominfo profile taken by Glover, Odom was a founding member of the Atlanta South Dance Company.